Are the Mainstream Media Telling us the Real Story ?

It could be just me but the media seem different today from the days of my youth.  Back then I felt I could count on a responsible press to ferret out the facts and present them as fairly and accurately as possible. Now, the “news” seems tainted by all kinds of outside influences, from corporate pressure to the ratings game – with various special interests constantly seeking to “spin” the facts in their favor.

Consider the reporting on the violence in the Ukraine, for example. Do you really know what’s going on? I don’t.

It seems to me that CNN and the other TV news channels are presenting the violence as a kind of “Arab Spring,” in which “the people” are rising up to throw off the yoke imposed on them by a wicked dictator who is in Russia’s pocket.

Some of that could be true. There’s a part of the Ukraine that harbors deep grudges against Russia.It would not be surprising if they were angered by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to sign a financial agreement with Russia instead of joining the European Economic Union.

But those people got to vote in the election that made Yanukovych president. They lost, as some people inevitably do in democratic elections. And it seems to me they should live with it, not throw Molotov cocktails about.

What I haven’t heard discussed on CNN or MSNBC (my TV news sources) is the role being played by American right-wing agitators. But I’ve been reading that kind of thing on the web, where American subversion is widely blamed for the violent uprising.

Reports on the web claim that America has “invested” $5 billion in influencing Ukrainian politics, and that private US-based organizations are working with the CIA to bring about “regime change” in that country. I’ve even read that many of the violent protesters are being paid to throw those Molotov cocktails.

Obviously, I don’t know how much of this (if any) is true. But I understand there are groups that secretly subvert foreign governments, supposedly in the interests of the United States, and that some of these private initiatives receive government funding.

I would like to say the Republicans are behind it. After all, one of the alleged right-wing troublemakers is the National Endowment for Democracy (a bedfellow of John McCain’s International Republican Institute), and I understand McCain has been visiting the Ukraine, stirring up hostility against Russia. But billionaire George Soros, who has been one of the Democratic Party’s biggest financial supporters, is also being identified as one of those working for “regime change” in the Ukraine.

And there’s that leaked Victoria Nuland phone conversation (the one in which she used some shockingly salty language). Nuland is the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in the Obama Administration and she was unknowingly taped while talking to Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, about regime change in that former Soviet nation.

Obviously, there’s more than one political party – or political movement – involved in whatever is going on in the Ukraine.

I’ve even read reports of neo-Nazi involvement in the uprising. A man named Dmitro Yarosh, the leader of Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), has been telling the foreign press that his men have amassed an arsenal of deadly weapons and are prepared “to defend all of Ukraine” from the government.

It’s worrying for so many reasons. Once again, the world seems in danger of war – hot or cold. Once again, America is being dragged into confrontations between foreign interest groups. I read, for example, that President Obama and Vladimir Putin are exchanging warnings about the Ukraine.

Have the people who really run America learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan? Or have they learned even more about fostering their own interests at the expense of the nation’s?

Click for US involvement.

Click for one (non-US) version of the story.

Click for Victoria Nuland’s gaffe.

Click for McCain’s visit.


What Would Jesus Say?

I can’t recall reading anything Jesus said about homosexuals, can you? Surely, there were some homosexuals in Galilee in His time? Or in big cities like Jerusalem? It stands to reason that in the massive crowds that followed Him, and even among the thousands that He healed, some must have been homosexuals. But, as far as I know, He never uttered a word of reproach to them.

I know there are dire edicts about stoning homosexual men to death (I don’t see anything about stoning lesbians) in the Old Testament. But the Old Testament also decrees stoning for all kinds of things – adultery, of course, and – if my memory can be trusted – not observing the Sabbath. Jesus didn’t endorse stoning. His message was one of forgiveness and tolerance.

So why has the Christian right launched such a fierce crusade against homosexuals?

I know it can be unsettling to be exposed to someone else’s sexuality, especially when it’s different from yours. But isn’t it enough to tell them to “get a room”?

It certainly was not enough for the so-called Christians who traveled from America to Uganda to agitate for laws that included the death penalty for practicing homosexuality. (The public outcry made Ugandans drop the death penalty and, as passed, the law decrees life imprisonment, not death.)

It certainly was not enough for  Republican lawmakers across America who are proposing legislation ostensibly to protect “religious freedom.”  In practice, such laws would  give businesses and individuals the right to deny services or employment to anyone whose lifestyle violates their religious beliefs.

You can imagine how such laws could be interpreted. They would legalize discrimination not only against homosexuals but against just about anyone. One application of such “religious freedom” would allow employers to ignore the new health care law’s decree to provide birth control in employees’ health insurance. The same principle would protect restaurants that discriminate against customers – or employers who discriminate against workers – from being sued.

The latest battlefront is in Arizona, where a bill to give individuals and businesses the right to diiscriminate on religious grounds is on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk. The governor vetoed a similar bill last year and is under pressure – even from fellow-Republicans like John McCain and Mitt Romney – to veto this version. But even if she does, you can bet you haven’t seen the last of such legislation.

And watch for the same kind of “religious freedom” argument to emerge in Washington DC.   The ghosts of Oliver Cromwell and the Salem witch burners are marching once again.

And, incredibly, they’re marching in the name of the gentlest of men – Jesus of Nazareth.

Click for more on the “religious freedom” movement.

Click for the Uganda law.

Click for what the Bible says about homosexuals.

Click for stoning in the Old Testament.


We Have to Have Taxes, but Could They be Less Taxing?

Have you filed your income tax return yet? April 15 is just a few weeks away. It’s an annual ordeal for Sandra and me. We wait till the last minute every year and scurry about trying to find someone who knows how to do these things. Surely, paying taxes shouldn’t have to be so taxing?

Of course the more complex and burdensome the process the more work it provides for the “experts.” That might be one reason the massive and convoluted tax code never gets simplified despite politicians’ perennial promises to do so.

A lot of the folks I talk with in this part of Florida – Republicans of course – favor the flat tax floated by conservatives from the dawn of time. They figure everybody should just pay 10 percent of their income with no exemptions. After all, isn’t that what it says in the Bible?

I’ve even seen bumper stickers declaring that “if Ten Percent is enough for God it should be enough for the Government.”

But where does that leave the special interests who are the backbone of the Republican Party? Rich people and giant corporations like General Electric would have to actually start paying taxes instead of just complaining about them. With the web of complexity created by the current system, they can hire smart accountants and lawyers to weasel them out of paying any taxes.

At least they’re providing employment for the accountants and lawyers, so the system is not entirely without its benefits.

It seems everybody has been promising to do something about the tax code. President Obama wants to close “loopholes” that the rich use to dodge their “fair share” of taxes, for example. And the Republicans want the poorest Americans to shoulder a bigger share of the tax burden. The rich pay far too much already, Republicans argue. It’s the poor – the infamous “47 percent” – who are shirking their duty to the country.

One thing everybody seems to agree on: the current four million-word tax code is absurdly cumbersome and blatantly unfair. Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson says it “inflicts a significant, even unconscionable burden” and is so complex that the Internal Revenue Service has severe difficulty administering it.

From time to time, some ambitious politician comes up with “the answer” to America’s unfair tax system.

One proposal surfacing in this morning’s news is from Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee. Camp is a Republican so I suppose it was only natural for him to seek relief for his rich pals.  Not surprisingly, he wants to slash the top income tax rate to 25 percent from 39.6 percent.

According to news reports, the plan would also reduce the U.S. tax brackets from seven to two – 10 percent and 25 percent.

Some affluent folks wouldn’t get off quite that easily, however. Camp would impose a 10 percent surtax on certain kinds of earned income above $450,000 a year. The surtax would hit salaried professionals like lawyers and accountants, but not farmers and manufacturers. (I imagine Camp’s campaign contributors must include a lot of farmers and manufacturers, don’t you?)

Camp’s plan would eliminate some existing exemptions to make up for lost revenue, but news sources haven’t yet been able to determine what breaks are targeted. My guess is they include the home mortgage interest exemption, which is the biggest boon to middle class families, not the more exotic provisions that allow corporations and the rich to shelter their income on shore and off.

Not that it matters, of course. Camp’s plan is just election-year fodder. Like the myriad proposals floated over the years, it has zero chance of becoming law.

Photo above shows National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson with those bulky tax code volumes.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Click for the AP story.

Click for the President’s proposal.

Click for more on the existing tax code.


Another “Liberal” Television Commentator Gets the Boot

The beat goes on… This time it’s Piers Morgan who must say goodbye. I see a trend here, don’t you? Keith Obermann’s head was the first to roll as I remember it, but checking the web, I see that the NBC suits dumped Phil Donahue back in 2002 because (according to a leaked internal memo) they thought he would act as “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”

Muzzling liberal commentators obviously isn’t new, but the trend seems to have accelerated in recent years. MSNBC, which pretends to be the liberal answer to Fox News, has fired several hosts for being too outspoken. Dylan Ratigan for one. Cenk Uygur for two. They even tried to sweep Ed under the rug but the fans wouldn’t let them.  Ed seems safe for now, but it looks as if Rachel is in danger.

When “liberal” icon Bill Maher starts picking on you, watch out. And he’s not the only one. Even Olbermann is criticizing Rachel these days.

The corporate television establishment tolerates people like Maher, smug and obvious though he so often is because – hey – he’s only kidding! He’s a humorist, see? You’re not supposed to take his jibes seriously. The same goes for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Who says conservatives can’t take a joke?

What they can’t – and won’t – take is the truth.

Olbermann wasn’t trying to be funny. He was trying to jolt Americans out of their complacency, shouting the truth from the rooftops, as it were. Ratigan, too. He was trying to warn Americans that the big banks were stealing the nation’s money in broad daylight.  Uygur also thought he could get away with telling it like it is. He didn’t last long.

And did I mention Martin Bashir? Who, you ask. How soon we forget.

Which brings us to Piers Morgan. He lasted three years. And he thought he could speak truth to power. Wrong.

CNN will tell you the Piers Morgan show gets low ratings. But isn’t that true of all of CNN’s programming? CNN is in one of the worst ratings slumps of its history. I don’t think it was his ratings that did Piers Morgan in. My guess is that he took on the wrong folks.

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape and you don’t mess around with the National Rifle Association. Not in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Not in this era of corporate-owned media.

You gotta know when to hold ‘em, Piers. You got to know when to fold ‘em. You gotta know when to walk away. You gotta know when to run.

The corporate suits call the shots. Corporations own the TV and radio stations – all of the commercial ones, anyway (the politicians own NPR).  And corporations own the Republican Party. So do the advertisers who keep TV and radio alive.  Remember that the next time you find yourself in front of a TV camera, Piers.

Whatever happened to the good old days when the unions owned the talk radio stations? How does the left expect to win the message war when they’ve let the right grab all the microphones?

Click for Piers Morgan’s firing.

Click for Maher’s swipe at Rachel.




Circus on the Right – Crazy? Or “Crazy Like a Fox”?

The face of today’s Republican Party – at least its public face – is contorted in maniacal rage. Overheated rhetoric has given way to pejorative – even threatening – diatribes against the President, and the party’s leaders openly talk about being “at war” with Democrats. In Texas, a rock-and-roll relic named Ted Nugent is hurling the grossest threats and insults at President Obama while publicly campaigning on behalf of the Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Meanwhile, that old war horse, Rush Limbaugh, spews one outrage after another, secure in the knowledge that very deep pockets are supporting him even when his radio program is losing millions from boycotts.

The display of theatrical excessiveness is not restricted to the lunatic fringe. The entire Grand Old Party has become a circus.

Party leaders, for example, have transformed their campaign headquarters into a bizarre stage set. This from the Washington Post:

At the headquarters where Republicans are plotting their takeover of the Senate, camouflage netting hangs from the ceiling and walls. Military surplus sandbags are piled up around operatives’ desks. And an ex-Marine named Ward Baker rattles off statistics that add up to trouble for Democrats.

“Our mentality is that we are at war every day,” said Baker, who as political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is helping command the 2014 midterm campaigns. “We’re here for one reason: to win the majority. Anything else is a failure.”

Demagogues like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul hog the limelight with extremist proclamations and irresponsible grandstanding, while more restrained party leaders are brushed aside. Incredibly, Cruz was named “statesman of the year” by Sarasota, Florida, Republicans.

How, I ask myself, can anyone expect to be entrusted with the reins of government when they behave in such outlandish ways?

And then I remember the saying, usually attributed to P,T. Barnum, that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

In the clatter and clamor of a society like this, name recognition seems to be everything. A homicidal clod who escaped the chair after shooting a black teenager to death in Florida is now a “celebrity” and was recently featured in a pay-per-view boxing promotion. Serial killers can peddle their stories for millions. Rogues and con artists get elected and re-elected with disheartening regularity.

In view of all this, it occurs to me that the Republicans might be smarter than they seem. After all, they’re getting hours of free air time with their grotesque behavior. They know the media can’t resist the allure of free entertainment programming, however distasteful the content might be.

And they’re betting that the American public will be so distracted by the ongoing circus that they will be duped into voting against their own best interests. With no palatable policies to offer, the party cannot depend on substantive discussion to contest the midterm elections. They’re obliged to resort to stagecraft and trickery, like the snake oil salesmen of old.

I can only hope that the American public is more sophisticated today. We will find out in November.

Click for more on LImbaugh’s losses.

Click for more on the GOP strategy.

Click for Ted Nugent’s insults.

Click for more about Ted Nugent.


Smart Guns are Here; How about Smart Gun Owners?

The First Smart Gun Has Come To America, And It Could Be The Start Of A Revolution

Here comes the next technological breakthrough – smart guns. In California, German gun manufacturer Armatix GmbH has begun selling a gun which can only fire when the owner wears an accompanying wristwatch. And a venture capitalist from Silicon Valley named Ron Conway is offering a $1 million prize to anyone who produces the next innovation in smart gun technology.

There are many similar initiatives in the works. The Washington Post’s Mike Rosenwald reports:

 Armatix, the German company behind the iP1, uses RFID chips, which can be found on anti-theft tags attached to expensive clothing. Trigger­Smart, an Irish company, also uses RFID chips, though with a ring instead of a watch. The company also has technology that would render guns inoperable if they approached electronic markers — for instance, near a school.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology is using sensors to recognize users’ grips and grasping behaviors. Kodiak Arms, a Utah company, is taking ­pre-orders for its Intelligun, which is unlocked with fingerprints. Other companies are using voice recognition. Yardarm, a California start-up, uses a smartphone app to notify gun owners of a weapon’s movement. Users can even remotely disable their weapons.

 Rosenwald hails the trend as “a dream of gun-control advocates for decades.”

He says introduction of the Armatix iP1 “is … seen as a landmark in efforts to reduce gun violence, suicides and accidental shootings. Proponents compare smart guns to automobile air bags — a transformative add-on that gun owners will demand.”

But I have to wonder if those gun control advocates are being too optimistic.

In my view, what we need is not smart guns but smart gun owners. And smart politicians who have the good sense and guts to enact sane gun control laws. Plus, of course, a Supreme Court that’s not in the pockets of the gun manufacturers.

There already are safety catches and trigger locks on guns, and I don’t see that making a dent in the mass slaughter constantly occurring in America.

Rosenwald says “lawmakers around the country have been intrigued by the (smart gun’s) possibilities.” He reports:

New Jersey passed a hotly contested law in 2002 requiring that only smart guns be sold in the state within three years of a smart gun being sold anywhere in the country. A similar measure made it through the California Senate last year, and at the federal level, Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.) also has introduced a mandate.

I doubt these laws could stand a Supreme Court test, especially with the justices on the court today. And Representative Tierney’s “mandate” has no chance of making it through the Republican dominated House of Representatives. This Congress can’t even pass laws requiring background checks and banning the sale of military weapons to civilians.

You can bet the National Rifle Association, which seems to have a death grip on Congress, would block any attempt to make smart guns mandatory.

Besides, who says gun owners will “demand” the smart guns? What I see them demanding – a lot of them, anyway – is mass-murder machines with 100-bullet magazines. The kind of person who would buy a smart gun is not the kind Americans need to worry about. The real danger comes from gun-crazy loonies. And, of course, money crazy gun manufacturers and their political lackeys.

Click for the Washington Post article.


The Doukhobors’ Protests Made the Public Look Twice

I hope I don’t seem to be trivializing the horrors of the current explosion of violence in the Ukraine but seeing the flames on TV reminded me of the protests the Doukhobors staged while I was in Canada.  It seemed to me that whenever the government did anything – or contemplated doing anything – that offended them, the Doukhobors stripped naked and gathered quietly in some public place.

No Molotov cocktails. No blazing rubber tires. No gunfire. Just a group of naked people standing around.

And no violent repression by “the authorities.”

The Doukhobors were from the Ukraine, a religious sect composed of mostly rural folk. Their naked bodies were what you would expect, some young, some old, some attractive, others not so much. One very attractive young lady made the front page of the Globe & Mail in the early Sixties, making history in the process. Back then, naked ladies did not appear on the front pages of national newspapers. The photo showed only her back,  but still…

I don’t know how well their protests worked politically, but – as you might imagine – they attracted quite a lot of media attention.  And isn’t that what protests – even terrorism – are all about? Attracting attention?

I understand the Doukhobors fled the Ukraine in the early 1900s to seek refuge in Canada, and they certainly found a far more tolerant environment there.  For centuries they had been persecuted by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Czars because of their religious views and pacifist policies. In Canada, they could settle in the vast prairies (and later in British Columbia) , free to establish their communities and practice their religion without government interference.

Early on, the authorities treated naked protests quite sternly. In 1931, for example, 118 Doukhobors were arrested and sentenced to three years each for public nudity.  And nude protesters were still being arrested in the early 1950s.

But by the time I immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in the mid-1950s, the Criminal Code had been amended to exempt Doukhobor-related “parading.” They could still be charged with mischief or indecency, but, if my memory can be trusted, law enforcement types were more likely to lend their coats to protesters than to arrest them.

By and large, Canadians are not easily shocked, and the naked Doukhobors were usually greeted with amused tolerance during my time there.

I moved to Florida 35 years ago, so I don’t know whether the Doukhobors are still protesting in their unusual way. I imagine that by now they have been absorbed into the Canadian mainstream and no longer stand around naked when they are offended.

But of this I am confident, they enjoy the freedom to practice their religion and stage peaceful protests secure in the knowledge that Canadian authorities would never send troops to disperse them. Even if they aren’t wearing any clothes.

(Photo shows a Doukhobor protest in 1919.)

Click for some Doukhobor history.

Click for the tragic situation in the Ukraine.



Impending Climate Calamity Seems So Far Away Today

For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.

Today the sun is shining here in Lakeland, Florida. It’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit outside the window of my den, and the weatherman promises a high in the mid-eighties. Surely, spring is here.

And, like the Queen of Sheba in “The Song of Solomon” (quoted above), I feel “like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.”

Well, maybe not quite like a roe or a young hart, but you get the idea.

On a day like today, it’s not easy to get my head around the devastation being wrought by climate change in other parts of the country and so many places around the world. That dreadful drought in California…. unprecedented ice and snow across most of North America… floods and typhoons in the Pacific… earthquakes and volcano eruptions…

As the snow comes down in Virgina, Pat Robertson looks out his window and declares that the notion of man-made global warming is “idiocy.” What’s wrong with those scientists anyway? Can’t they see the snow? Can’t they feel the cold?

But Mother Nature doesn’t work that way. It can be cold today and yet over the year, the world may be warmer. Weather is not the same as climate.

I don’t know if this means anything, but while our little corner of the world has had a long, dreary spell of colder-than-usual weather, we haven’t had a day of frost. And that’s not normal. Every other year – and Sandra and I have lived in this house for 15 years – there has been a day or two (or three) of frost, leaving a trail of dead leaves for me to prune away. One year, it got cold enough to kill my mango tree.

Millions of Americans may be shivering now but, overall, 2013 was among the warmest years on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that the average world temperature was 58.12F (14.52C) tying with 2003 for the fourth-warmest since 1880. NASA, which calculates records in a different manner, says 2013 was the seventh-warmest, with an average temperature of 58.3F (14.6C).

We shouldn’t need John Kerry to tell us that global warming is as big a threat to humanity as any weapon of mass destruction, as he told Indonesian students recently. But apparently we do.

The climate change deniers are in full voice. And right-wing billionaires are digging into their deep pockets to fund them.

Meanwhile, the polar ice cap slowly melts away, polar bears drown, and sea levels rise.

Click for Kerry’s warning.

Click for Bill Nye’s take on climate change.


Better Look Out, Canada! Walmart is Expanding!

Under fire in the US, Walmart is looking to Canada for its next big bonanza. The controversial company is planning to invest close to half a billion dollars in a massive Canadian expansion.

The  retail giant revolutionized American merchandising and spread across the globe, becoming one of the world’s most prized investment stocks. But it is being reviled in its home country for a multitude of reasons, including its substandard wages and its practice of strong-arming suppliers into moving production facilities to China.

President Obama has been pressing for a federal minimum wage and has decreed that federal contractors must pay at least $10.10 an hour. There is significant momentum for raising the minimum wage across the country, and one argument in favor is that companies like Walmart are subsidized by the current rate. They can pay the existing minimum wage of $7.25, leaving their employees to depend on food stamps and other government assistance to survive.

The fact that four descendants of Walmart founder Sam Walton – who became a legend for his frugality – are together worth as much as  the poorest 40 percent of their fellow-Americans has also sparked outrage in the media. A recent Gawker article declared:

The Waltons are the richest family in the world. They are the new Rockefellers, the modern synonym for “vast wealth.” And indeed, income inequality in America has reached levels not seen since John D. Rockefeller roamed the earth. The Waltons are the kings and queens of our new Gilded Age.

Walmart superstores are also criticized for killing off traditional retailers across the country.And consumers’ resentment has helped spur development of a a movement favoring smaller food outlets, such as farmers markets.

The global giant is also known for bullying politicians and trampling on public sentiment to build stores in the most productive locations, even if these locations happen to be in a national forest or some other protected area.

With this kind of track record, Walmart’s Olympics commercial is puzzling. An empty American factory promises it will be whirring again, revived by Walmart’s money – $250 billion over the next 10 years.

What can it mean?

Is this the dawning of a pro-American era for Walmart? Are the Walton’s developing a conscience at last?

Or is this just a PR campaign to counter the barrage of bad press the retailer has been receiving in the US?

The company’s attempt to project a more responsible image could be a prelude to their Canadian invasion. While Americans revere the “free market” and hesitate to demand that companies like Walmart keep the common good in mind, Canadians have no such qualms. In Canada, everyone, even giants, must play by the rules. And the people’s elected representatives are the ones who set those rules, not global corporations.

Click for Walmart’s plans to expand in Canada.

Click for the Gwker article.

Click for an example of he store’s tactics.

Click for the commercial.


How Can Stand Your Ground Laws be Constitutional?

I didn’t hear it on TV and I had to Google it to find out, but, yes, Stand Your Ground laws are being challenged in the courts. It’s puzzling that I heard none of the pundits mention that in the aftermath of the Michael Dunn case. Clearly, the laws, which have so far been enacted in more than 30 states, violate the United States Constitution.

Surely, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis had as much right to equal protection under the law (as specified in the Fourteenth Amendment)  as any other American?

There is no provision in the United States Constitution for the “justifiable use of deadly force.” The Second Amendment only confers the right to “bear arms” not to use weapons wantonly. And although the right to self-defense is enshrined in common law, Stand Your Ground laws go quite a bit farther.

And, as the law is being applied in Florida, there are troubling signs of racism.

As all the world knows, Martin and Davis were black teenagers. Martin was shot to death by a lighter-skinned man named George Zimmerman. Davis was killed by a bullet fired into an SUV by a white man named Michael Dunn.

The defense in both cases was based on the shooters’ feelings. They said they felt afraid. They said they thought their lives were in danger. Dunn even said he thought he saw a gun in the possession of the teenagers in the SUV. No gun was found in the SUV. And Martin was armed with nothing more deadly than a bag of skittles and a can of iced tea.

Are a white man’s “feelings” enough to justify the death of a black teenager? Apparently that’s what the law is being interpreted to say.

I see that as a slippery slope. In this paranoid society, lots and lots of people feel threatened for no real reason. Does that mean they can legally kill anyone they “feel” afraid of? Or does the law apply only if the threat comes from a black person? Especially a young, black male?

There is an implication that young, black males are inherently dangerous. It is an implication that taints the entire American judicial system but it was most blatant in the recent Stand Your Ground trials in Florida.

In the year 2014, in the world’s leading democracy, such an implication is totally unacceptable.

It is time for the US Supreme Court to examine these laws.

The world is watching.

(Photos above show, from left, Dunn, Davis, Martin and Zimmerman.)

Click for efforts to change the Florida law.

Click for one of the Constitutional challenges.

Click for the Fourteenth Amendment.

More on Stand Your Ground.

Click for one university’s views.